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”Ugly is only skin deep”

Ever since Bernbach gave us the ”Ugly is only skin deep” welcome to the new world where ugly is really skin deep, This june marked the first Plastic Surgery fashion show, plastic surgery isn’t common to us, the Indian physician Sushruta in his work Sushruta Samhita describes the practices of Rhinoplasty and Otoplasty. A fashion show using the tools of plastic surgery is however not common and was never practised before, this however brings major implications for we marketers in general.

Branded to perfection: True that fashion shows have always been sources for showcasing major brands, in the future hell, we might have prisoners do a fashion show and have companies brand prison wear, this would be a big taking, imagine what would Martha Stewart wear to prison… ordinary clothes, hell no; we have companies which can launch branded prison wear, and too much to Anita Roddicks surprise Cosmetic companies can make a killing by branding their cosmetic products and selling plastic surgery solutions for a better world, or have major companies providing new category killers for the new segment. Companies can sponsor the fashion shows, have new designers and the rest they say in cliche terms in history, i surely wouldnt be surprised if in the future they having fashion shows for the cutest robot.

A new way for mass PR: Well markets have become cluttered, and the only way to make some impact is to launch a fashion show to get the media talking, the blogs talking, wiki would have an article, talk shows, discussions, damn i am also to blame for writing topics like this, this way some other companies will jump the ante, in the future we shall have a PSFS ( Plastic Surgery Fashion Show) of various kinds PSFS Spring Summer by X, PSFS by Y and the media would jump into by writing how it makes more sense to spend the money on food crisis or povery, capitalists would jump by defending themselves.. a la one more cliche to the whole thing, the only thing it does good is that it gets people talking.

A new untapped opportunity: Typical MBA jargon, its a new untapped opportunity, Imagine young managers speaking to their bosses about a new PSMW (Plastic Surgery Miss World) PSMU( Plastic Surgery Miss Universe) and a PSMA (Plastic Surgery Miss America), heck it sure is a new untapped opportunity for marketers, why they can have auditions from every country and encourage plastic surgery,

True all this is possible in the long term, we have to however live with this crazy world, just as George Bernard Shaw emphasised “Fashion is so intolerable that we have to change it every six months” Six months is very short a period of time for IPSC ( Individuals with Plastic Surgery done Community) and there will new laws in place for protecting people with Plastic Surgery, new FDA laws, new acts for people undergoing plastic surgery, of course this is going to be one complicated activity in the future, Men would jump saying they are a part of the IPSC and demand equal rights, there would be a special community and focus on this new community, Countries would lobby for their share of legalizing PSFS and then the same cycle of media, blogs, talks, debates, finally makes me ponder, a complicated issue however, but then ugly is skin deep and imagine robotic fashion shows, new patents, new untapped markets, branded products and finally new laws, new acts, new communities and further complications.

There is some HOPE ( Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies)

Ever since the Energy Tax Act came into prominence, it was a new realm.. the Gas Guzzler Tax, today we see its all the environment and nothing but the environment. The recent news reports about the General Motors thinking on the lines of removing the line of the Hummer came in rather expected rather than a jolt, the Hummer brand isnt going to survive for long, it was Arnie who popularised the Hummer and taking it to the consumption when he first purchased the Hummer which was specially meant for World War purposes, Its the Oil shock that is making the Hummer out of the market, i don’t have a liking for MUV’s for any reason but i do like Suv’s ;). What can GM do is the biggest challenge. In its fight for oil i would suggest GM to think of new ways to rethink of launching the new HUMVEE by strategically innovating, true its a gas guzzler but it would make more sense for GM to use Bio fuels for the Hummer just as Richard Branson did it with the Boeing, the hummer should try to launch new models which are not energy eaters, and the tax on the Gas Guzzlers act as another disadvantage, of course the number of people who are driving the hummer is very few, GM can as well scrap the division but can also start various model of the Hummer, the question is the resources that needs to be taken in question, will the hummer be made into a eco-friendly vehicle, much of what we know is that in the world of technology is possible, or another wacky idea like an electric hummer, it all depends on how much we need to charge to get the hummer running and it would sure attract the electricity freaks into business, the way to go it to make the hummer an eco friendly vehicle by launching a bio-fuel one and launching new models, this way there could be some HOPE ( Hummer Owners Prepared for Emergencies)

Beauty parloured for the new look!!!!!!!!!!!!!

T.S Elliot in the wasteland proudly emphasised that April is the cruelest month, but not for marketers, since april there has been rebranding efforts taken by marketers, a close look at the rebranding issues that have come up have been enormous, first we had the likes of UTI-Axis, A new face of Canara bank, Hutch becoming Vodafone, till recently the new look of Godrej, the new face of Ceat and the new positioning done by shoppers stop and Arvind mills with its new logo. All these suggest many factors, one being that the companies are looking beyond the traditional image and having a new look, another reason is that of projecting the company as the new company with fun and excitement, breaking the clutter and saving the considation are the most obvious reasons, is the new look justified….Let us take a moment to understand what works, why it works and why the mind of the customer is becoming difficult to change. One obvious reason that have been the cause is that the industry is getting diversified and there has to be a clear cut brand proposition for it to stay healthy in the market place, of course the 6 crore that godrej paid Interbrand for the rebranding efforts is just a small percentage of its volumes. People have not realised much change, for a change to happen there should be an overall change for the whole companies point of view, let me put my two cents in this, the first is that even though Vodafone is the new avatar, people still associate it with hutch, for example on my Nokia phone the name is still hutch and not vodafone and they have not changed it, with the rebranding there has not been much change in the connectivity and it took the ad guys to get the dog back to show that we care, and by the way i perfectly think that the dog overshadowed the brand name ”winks winks” too much for advertising these days. Take canara bank, i have asked some customers, their reply, the logo is changed and they have incorporated new colours, but the service is the same and they have not been any new services to prove the change, Shoppers stop have been a wonderful campaign, i personally loved the work of contract for its ads, the advertising is beautifully done, but will the campaign show that shoppers stop have really changed, the change should be a 360 degree branding, first make all the systems, staff and the strategy in place and then go for a rebranding efforts, i am not really sure in the case of ceat but on a personal note i loved the born tough and the Rhino as a logo, made perfect sense for a tyre brand, it is upto brand managers to understand why rebranding needs to be done, my three cents on this, first is that there is a better offering and the company is going for rebranding, second is that they have entered a different segment, for example soaps and glycering during the world war II, third is that there is a confusion in the original branding efforts, much also needs to understand that a new beauty parloured look would not matter if the consumer does not feel the difference, the same service existed in the Deccan to Simplifly deccan, there has even not much people who were aware that a rebranding effort has been taken place, when companies spend money and time, when the rebranding efforts is not aware by the customers, i sign off saying the rebranding is not about a new look, a new colour, a new symbol or a new logo…it is much beyond the these, it is about justifying that the new look suits the image of the company, rebranding without systems, staff and strategy in place is like changing you style but the same of you remains……

Cover me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Perhaps, the only two issues of the TIME magazine to have a border other than the colour Red, one was for the 9/11 blasts and the recent for it’s going green, When i had a look at the magazine i did see a difference it was not red, and then a thought pondered me, i think this is what they mean by a JND ( just noticable difference)

Time in Green

The time in green for its fight against Global Warming….

Australian for Water!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The recent ban on surrogate advertising is going broadcasters bonkers, approximately 200 to 250 crores will be the loss to the broadcasters and many agencies have put their ads on hold until any further hearing on the ban is ready to be made. In the ever globalised scenario, when brands such as heiniken and coors are set to enter the country, giving more employment and contribution in the form of GDP we do not need to ban surrogate advertising, I think there should be advertising during the consumption, this way companies can play their ads during the point of consumption and that is a massive market considering potential people who get converted instantly during consumption but there are also instances where the marketer is not worried about placing ads during consumption, but at the mass media to attract new patters in consumption, Companies have long since taken the road to surrogate advertising, Wills lifestyle which brands wills, kingfisher soda to mineral water and now the fosters water. The government knows it, the people know it, everybody knows it, that advertising is done to promote alcohol rather than cassettes and CD’s. There is nothing surrogate about surrogate advertising, when it is perfectly legal to make cigarretes and beer why on earth is it wrong to promote the products manufactured, my next cent is that from the consumers point of view every one knows that its the cigaratte being branded and the beer being branded, why such messages then. some companies have a very long association with formula 1, these brands are smuggled into india for example marlboro, and ITC is not allowed to sponsor such events and lost to such smuggled products says Ramesh Narayan in an article in the business line. From an advertisers point of view, the clients bottom line is the key, and how does it matter whether Fosters is australian for beer or Australian for water….

The return of the Human Zoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ever since ” Ethnological Expositions” had a severe effect in the 19th and the 20th century, there came a new buzz called Human Zoo’s. It displayed the public exhibits of human beings, usually in a ‘natural’ or ‘primitive state’. The motive was to emphasize the cultural differences between the Western and non-European people, These zoo’s were on the lines of Social Darwinism, and were criticised as being racist. Today in the year 2008 I forsee a new change in the definition of a social zoo in the form of advertisments. Everyone knows the man behind the United Colors of Benetton ad, Oliverio Toscani; was it his creative genius that we all should admire or the new culture shock that he probably gave the world. Recent examples from Sony ( hyperkined ad) to Absolut has shown the path that advertising and racism combined could deliver. A yahoo chat room discussion that i had quite a few days back witness people talking of whether the ads were acceptable, some guys pointed out to the marketing segmentation and positioning, one made a remark that the ad for the United Colors of Benetton ad was advertised as United and hence needed to communicate people from various communities, the person also gave an interesting note to how FCUK was branded or as the matter of fact Cocaine ( the energy drink). BrandChannel from the house of Interbrand gave a classic post to the use of conrtroversial names and images to propel the ad, while i might say that the advertising campaign can get you publicity, with people taking about the ad but it might also be demeaning to ‘certain classes’ of the society, Little did we know that the Ad for Dolce and Gabbana was heavily protested by Nun’s and women folk in many parts of the world. The new ads for Hanes ( hyperlinked ad ) had also come under the light of controversy due to racism, the ad featured a man dragging offensive images such as f***ot and n***er quoted the economic times. On a personal note on seeing the ads i could have come to the conclusion that there has been some racism but it was depicted in a very clever way, Racism isnt new here in the indian context too, the classifieds in the newspaper for a matrimonial ad show us enough that there is racism in India, but when Indian advertising agencies embark of racism is a site which I, have seen after a very long time. The question that had me pondering was why put racism in advertising, what will be the consequences to the brand image of the company, and how much time will it take for the brand regain its image. For now the questions are yet to be pondered on, Why do brand managers add racism in the advertising context after knowing that it might degrade the brand in the future, i am off to ponder on these questions and will sure post them once i get enlightened, and by the way you can help me too………chao for now and lets not forget we are back to the human zoo………………………..

I passed the exam, I’m Lovin it…….

No wonder, there is so much clutter in the market place, Marketers are trying to position ads in the bathrooms, gardens, shirts and like a typical ‘Seth Godin’ remark ‘The answer to clutter is more clutter and that’s why there is so much spam on your inbox because marketers are desperate’. Truly agree with Seth, The recent foray of McDonalds into placing ads on report cards was taken by a surprise by teachers, students and the marketing community. Of course The Big Mac has removed the ads on report cards due to high protests from teachers and parents. A la Naomi Klein incident…This utter desperation by Marketers brings to light the various steps taken by Marketers to promote the brand. If there was any blame on the company, then the school should also be put to blame as it’s given the permission to place the ad in the first place. Looking from the aspects from the Marketers point of view that it was a nicely crafted promotion and a unique way to look beyond the traditional ways and have new ways of appealing to children who form a core of the Mac’s business. McDonalds have been prone to criticism from time immemorial, right from the ads to selling junk food to the children. If not for the  protests, a very nice promotional campaign.

                                                       The Brand Report Card

The first time I read about the report card, I have been debating this with people from various spheres to get a holistic view and Comments are welcome.